The Dhammapada and Virtue Ethics

Author: Christopher Ives (Stonehill College)

The most widely read Buddhist text is, in all likelihood, the Dhammapada, a collection of verses attributed to the historical Buddha, which includes a widely quoted statement:

Refraining from all that is detrimental,
attaining what is wholesome,
purifying one’s mind:
this is the instruction of Awakened Ones.[i]

By “detrimental” Buddha is referring to mental states that cause suffering, whereas the “wholesome” are the opposite mental states, the cultivation of which conduce to liberation from suffering. The Dhammapada is replete with lists of these mental states, the most prominent of which are the “three poisons,” ignorance, greed, and ill will, and their opposites, wisdom, generosity and loving-kindness. The Dhammapada also treats the “five hindrances” and the “ten fetters,” as well as the “five faculties” and the “seven factors of enlightenment.” In effect, these mental states are vices and virtues.

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The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)

Author: Nicholas Hudson (University of Hawaii) 

A foundational text of Confucianism, The Analects is a collection of dialogues, sayings, and observations involving Confucius (Kongzi) and his disciples. It is generally believed that Confucius’ disciples started to compose it shortly after his death in 479 B.C.E. and over the next two hundred or so years the text was added to and revised, perhaps becoming the received text around 150 B.C.E. Written during the Warring States Period, a time of great upheaval, much of the book can be seen as a response to violent social and political disorder. It opposes the use of force, advocating instead a government based on ritual and moral authority. Although Confucius describes himself as transmitter and not an innovator (Analects VII.1) and emphasizes the dao (way) of former kings, The Analects does not promote a simple return to the past. Rather, much of the text is concerned with reinterpretation; for example, the word jun, formerly referring to a martial nobleman, comes to mean a cultured noble man. Continue reading “The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)”